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N.S. election: Tim Houston talks health care, vaccines, policing in 1-on-1 interview

Click to play video: 'N.S. election: PC leader Tim Houston talks health care, vaccines' N.S. election: PC leader Tim Houston talks health care, vaccines
In our series of conversations with the men who want to lead this province, we sit down with Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative leader Tim Houston. – Aug 3, 2021

Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston says if elected in two weeks, his government plans to heavily invest in health care despite another election promise to return some corporate taxes back to employees.

Global’s Sarah Ritchie sat down with Houston ahead of the 41st provincial election to talk health care, economy, vaccines and policing.

One of Houston’s big promises during the election was a Better Pay Cheque Guarantee program, which would give businesses the option to put 50 per cent of their provincial corporate taxes toward higher wages for employees. Staff earning in the top 20 per cent of a company’s payroll would not be eligible.

Read more: Keeping track of the N.S. election and promises from main party leaders

When asked how his government would make up for a potential shortfall in taxes for funding things like health care – something the Progressive Conservatives have been campaigning heavily on – Houston said the province would run deficits “for a few years.”

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“We’re going to run deficits because this province, right now, has to invest in people, this province has to invest in infrastructure,” he said.

“We need the right leadership team that will make the correct investments, because if we make the right investments, we’ll all be better off for it.”

Watch the full interview here:

Click to play video: 'N.S. election: Progressive Conservative leader Tim Houston sits down for 1-on-1 interview' N.S. election: Progressive Conservative leader Tim Houston sits down for 1-on-1 interview
N.S. election: Progressive Conservative leader Tim Houston sits down for 1-on-1 interview – Aug 3, 2021

During the 17-minute interview, Houston didn’t commit to requiring that health-care professionals be vaccinated against COVID-19 – though, in his own words, “it’s not a not-commitment.”

He said he would like to consult with public health before making any decisions.

“I’m an accountant. That’s my background,” said Houston, who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. “I’m certainly not an expert on vaccines, I’m certainly not an expert on public health. But I believe I have the confidence to involve those that do, so we’ll have those discussions.”

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Read more: Nova Scotia election — Party leaders on how they will address COVID-19 moving forward

Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, the Progressive Conservatives introduced a bill that would make vaccinations mandatory in public schools in Nova Scotia, but Houston says the party has since “backed away from that a little bit.”

He said he would like to prevent the re-emergence of conditions like whooping cough, but said that particular piece of legislation is no longer a focus for the party.

RCMP in Nova Scotia

Meanwhile, the issue of policing has been a hot topic in Nova Scotia – especially following the RCMP’s response to the April 2020 shooting spree that left 22 people dead.

The RCMP has faced criticism over how they responded to the massacre and the aftermath, which raised questions about the role the RCMP plays in rural policing.

Houston said he was interested in seeing the results of the public inquiry into the shooting. While the RCMP contract is not in his platform, he said he will look at it if he gets into office.

— With files from Sarah Ritchie

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